Chef Danielle Maupertuis is a firm favourite at VegfestUK and other vegan events – and she is booked for cookery demonstrations at various festivals this year including Hampton Court Place. Danielle has been featured in numerous magazines, websites and given filmed interviews as well as invited onto radio shows. spreading the vegan dessert message! Her book is aptly named Vegans Deserve Better than a Fruit Salad…. and we do!
We wanted to find out more about Danielle and how her journey began.
Danielle starts from her baking roots…….
While studying psychology at the University of Liege in Belgium Danielle and her colleagues opened a small store selling organic products and wholemeal breads … Danielle volunteered, just to help out … and fell in love with baking:
“The smell, the heat of the bakehouse, the cocoon, the feeling of well-being, of harmony … This love has never left me.”
Danielle signed up for a 2-year-bakery-pastry course – and the only female the classroom, however she had the full support from her teacher.
“I worked early in the morning as an apprentice in a bakery. The Chef was a terror! I was earning £ 2.00 an hour at that time. When after a year I asked for a pay raise, I got fired with these words “Get out, this is not a job for you”! Ignoring his kind words, I continued, always with the support of my teacher and very quickly, I opened my first bakery and pastry workshop In Brussels.”
Danielle was famous for creating personalized cakes (children’s birthdays, advertising support for companies …)
Everything was fine however Danielle is an adventurer and one day read an ad in the newspaper “Looking for an experienced Pastry Chef to open the First Brussels Pastry Shop in Athens, Greece.”
Danielle stayed in Greece for 6 years. In addition to her own stores, she also supplied the Greek Islands with frozen cakes.
However during a holiday in Lebanon, Danielle meet the manager of the Bristol Hotel in Beirut who was looking for a Head Pastry Chef to open a pastry shop in the hotel, and renew the existing range of desserts- what we now call “give them a modern twist”.
Danielle got the role and managed a team of about fifteen pastry chefs. She took part in the opening of the first Marriott Hotel International after the civil war.
“Located near the airport, Israeli planes flew over us regularly, and we had to take refuge in the cinema located in the basement of the hotel complex….”
Regular power cuts, we had our first wedding banquet under candlelight.
Danielle then become the Executive Pastry Chef for the most famous hotel located in the Christian part of Beirut, for 3 years: catering from morning to night, fabulous banquets and weddings – 700 people – plated desserts, buffets, and, above all, competitions with an International jury.
“I won several gold and silver medals. This is where I really rose to the top of my creativity and skills. This is why Lebanon keeps a unique place in my heart.”
Next was a 1 year contract in the Azores (Portugal), creating a central kitchen for the 5 biggest hotels on the island, and once again, revisit and refresh the classics of Portuguese pastry. After the exhausting days in Lebanon, 40 hours of work per week were really welcome!
And after 1 year of research, Danielle became Executive Pastry Chef at the Marriott Hanbury Manor, 5 * hotel.
“And I take on a new lease of my professional life: another 6 years exploring all areas of pastry: buffets, afternoon teas, plated desserts, chocolate, showpieces…
In the hotel business you regularly move to another challenge, so I went to the Red Carnation Hotels, a group of luxury hotels spread over 5 continents.
Creative time and enthusiastic management support, what more could I ask for? The Group awarded me “Best Pastry Chef of the Year”, I felt so proud my work was recognised, respected and appreciated.”
And then the vegan movement seeped in and Danielle realised there were no vegan desserts for her guests. So She started to develop a range of vegan desserts based on taste and presentation.
This led to her book: “Vegans deserve better than a fruit salad” in which she presents over sixty recipes covering the main areas of pastry – parties, birthdays, buffets, party cakes, petits fours and more …
Her challenge is to convince people “Vegan desserts are easy to make, taste yummy and look fantastic!”
With a special focus on the “Basics” of Vegan pastry, too often neglected in the vegan literature.
“I take great pleasure in passing on my passion, knowledge and experience , through lessons – live at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School and online in my vegan and gluten-free pastry courses.
You will also see me in cookery demos in vegan shows, I just love it and cannot wait to get my audience back.”
Danielle is now working to open a new path in Vegan Pastry. Her last demo was a presentation at the RHS Wisley Flower Show “How to use plants, herbs and flowers in vegan pastry”. It was the first time she talked to a non vegan audience – and the feedback was fantastic.
“I hope in the future to consolidate the links between plant based patisserie and Flower Shows, a huge step in the recognition of vegan patisserie.”
Danielle is writing her second book in preparation “Veganissimo” ……. “afternoon teas and parties”.
This time introducing a higher standard and fine dining touch, her goal being to open the doors to the exciting word of the Culinary Awards.
And what’s next for the UKs leading vegan pastry chef?
“More spreading the word for vegan desserts, more video courses showing everyone how to make their own fantastic vegan desserts, I am finishing my 2nd book and passionate about showing professional chefs as well that you do not need animal products to make incredible desserts.”
Vegans Deserve Better than a Fruit Salad Facebook Group.
Where Foodies and chefs are invited to present their latest creations, discuss technical points, share information about new products… Together we will bring up the standards of Vegan Pastry!